Pain, the single thought filled Cam’s head as he realized that he was conscious. His body hurt like somebody had taken it apart and tried to put it back together, nothing fitting or moving like it should.
Garbled voices hovered around him, their syllables pinging against his ear drums. Eventually he made out one word, tags, and then more as his mind sorted through the sounds in the room.
“I don’t want to hold him down. Did you see the way he swung that pitchfork? I can’t believe I got the taser on him,” a young man’s voice pinched at Cam’s temples and squeezed out memories of flashlights and smoke and gravel.
A deeper, slower voice humphed and a hand pushed Cam’s shoulder and turned him over on his back. “There you go, like a loose sack of flour. Better get it done before he wakes up. If he’s a mutant, that taser’ll wear off fast.”
Cam forced an eye open and squinted at a chin speckled in gray and brown scruff.
“Where do I stick this?” the young voice asked.
“Give that to me, you moron,” the gruff voice answered. The scruffy chin disappeared and was replaced by a shadowed face in a halo of curly black hair and pressure on his shoulders.
“Hey, Barnes?” the young voice asked out of the shadowed face.
“I think he’s awake.”
Cam blinked his one eye and opened the other.
“Already? Mutant for sure,” the deep voice called Barnes said.
Pain, the feeling waved through Cam’s body. The voices and light and smell of latex seemed distant and surreal. Warm fingers wrapped around his bicep, then he felt a pinch and a sting. Too late, his mind reacted and his arm twitched toward his chest, the fingers and the pinch already gone.
“What does it say?” the McCall asked as the shadowed face disappeared and Cam closed his eyes against the light.
“Nothing. I’ve never seen it do this,” Barnes’ voice tensed.
“What does ‘No Code’ mean? Maybe it’s broken,” McCall offered.
The pain in Cam’s muscles eased to an ache and he flexed his fingers.
Barnes answered the young voice. “He’s moving. Let’s just get him tagged. The Scouts can worry about his code, we just need to be able to track the bastard before he runs again and keeps us out in the brush all night.”
“He’s starting to move around,” the McCall said. “I’ll grab the handcuffs.”
“Good idea. He’s a strong son of a bitch. I was sure he’d code mutant,” Barnes sighed. “Ready?”
“Ready,” McCall answered.
Cam blinked at the young voice and this time made out a smooth face and a shock of black curls as the Regulator wrapped his hand around Cam’s arm. Cam jerked back and rolled onto the floor. The room swam, and as Cam crawled toward the door, it kept moving. He reached for the handle and a steel bracelet snapped over his wrist as a boot dug into his back and slammed him flat onto his belly. Grunting as a knee pressed down between his shoulder blades, Cam winced as his other arm was twisted behind him and wrapped in the cuffs.
“Not done with you yet, boy,” Barnes’ deep voice was followed by a sharp sting at the base of Cam’s neck.
Cam heaved off of the floor and bucked the man into a metal table. The Regulator was old and barrel chested, heavy enough to carry the table with him into the far wall. The smaller, younger man pulled something off of his belt and pain bloomed through Cam’s body from his hip. He fell to the floor as the older Regulator stomped across the room and hovered over him.
“Do you have a death wish, boy?” Barnes spit out past the blood running down his face.
Then the darkness came again.
The Plague Legacy: Acquisitions is the first book in my young adult dystopian fantasy series due out December 6, 2013. You can read two earlier scenes, “Caught” and “Run Away,” here on my site or on Wattpad.